Politicians rally to save Christopher Columbus statue from removal consideration

MIDTOWN NEW YORK — The local and national debate is heating up over controversial statues.

And now the Christopher Columbus statue high over Columbus Circle is under the microscope.

"Leave our statues alone! Stop the political correctness!" media personality and Italian-American Joe Piscopo said.

Piscopo joined lawmakers and activists at City Hall Thursday. They were angry about the City Council Speaker's call this week to bring the statue down. Melissa Mark-Viverito said, "There should be no monument or statue of Christopher Columbus, based on what he means or what he signifies."

Mark-Viverito was referring to Columbus' role in the enslavement and killing of indigenous people he encountered when he arrived in the Caribbean.

"Christopher Columbus is someone who means a great deal to the Italian Americans of New York City. We are concerned about preserving his legacy. We acknowledge the faults that he may have had," Staten Island City Council Member Joe Borelli said.

The debate over our city and country's statues was ignited following violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

New York City is now looking at its statues and monuments and evaluating whether any are a symbol of hate. Mayor Bill de Blasio said a city commission will evaluate the monuments before a decision is made.

"We are starting from scratch. I think a lot of history that needs to be re-evealuated went unspoken for for a long period of time and a lot of people felt pain because of that," de Blasio said on Tuesday.

The New Yorkers PIX11 spoke to said it's a discussion worth having.

Carter McCall of Brooklyn was sitting under the Columbus statue Thursday afternoon. He said, "I wouldn't particularly be opposed to it. I obviously don't know what Italian-Americans feel like and I would like to hear what they thought."